Activity on the Mountain Branch (Portland to Westbrook)

Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.

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Activity on the Mountain Branch (Portland to Westbrook)

Postby guilford88panam » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:54 pm

I have read some things on here about it and I live near the tracks leading to Sappi and for years they were rusty now they have some shine on the tops but I havnt heard any units going by in a while? Am I crazy or? lol...could someone just give me a clear answer. Thanks

Tim
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi?

Postby GP9 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:48 pm

There are two Sappi Mills in Maine. The smaller one is in Westbrook and the big one is north of Waterville.
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi?

Postby guilford88panam » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:57 pm

GP9 wrote:There are two Sappi Mills in Maine. The smaller one is in Westbrook and the big one is north of Waterville.


Oh okay. Which one is still serviced by rail?
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi (Westbrook)?

Postby MEC407 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:28 pm

The Sappi plant in Skowhegan still ships and receives by rail on a regular basis. The Westbrook plant, not so much. Service has been very sporadic over the past several years. I don't know when the last time was that they shipped or received anything by rail.
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi (Westbrook)?

Postby guilford88panam » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:26 pm

MEC407 wrote:The Sappi plant in Skowhegan still ships and receives by rail on a regular basis. The Westbrook plant, not so much. Service has been very sporadic over the past several years. I don't know when the last time was that they shipped or received anything by rail.


Okay thank you very much.
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi (Westbrook)?

Postby Bulkheadflat » Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:47 am

The Westbrook mill is receiving rail shipments again, I saw a single engine with a hopper and tank, both clay I believe, head over there last week. Interestingly, the covered hopper was an SAN (Sandersville), which was a big name going to the Bucksport mill for many years. Those were always white ridged hoppers with the full logo across the sides. Haven't seen any signs of a Sandersville hopper for a long time (likely due to the ship-rail clay transload) until now, and this hopper was a grey jumbo.
Had a feeling about a month or so ago that the mill may have been back in action when I caught an engine returning to the yard with a mixture of 6 or 7 clay tanks and hoppers.
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi (Westbrook)?

Postby ShortlinesUSA » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:10 pm

Kind of a long shot, but makes me wonder if the Sappi Westbrook plant's return to rail shipping has anything to do with the Pan Am Southern venture with NS. Sandersville is a BIG NS customer, and owns a significant chunk of NS stock. I have heard from a friend in the industry that deals with shipping that Sappi is no fan of CSX, and prefers to ship via NS when they can. Now that Pan Am has a better connection with them, and transit times are improving on the west end, it is certainly a possibility.
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Re: Does PAR still service Sappi (Westbrook)?

Postby newpylong » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:05 am

Good thoughts. I think it's fair to assume that any new traffic at this point can be directly connected to PAS. We went through almost 30 years of GTI by itself and we didn't see much in the name of new traffic. It shouldn'r be a surprise that we're seeing old customers start to get cars again and interchanges re-open now.

On a more sourer note, the General Manager for the PAS has resigned, not sure why. Maybe he had enough of the BS from Billerica. The director of train operations for the ST is now acting GM. Wonderful....
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Activity on the Ex-Mountain Division/Sappi?

Postby KPWM » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:58 pm

I've been spending some time in Westbrook this summer, and every time I pass over the tracks it gets me wondering what's going on with PanAm's service to the area these days.

Last I had heard, PanAm was still running occasional local freights down the Mountain Division as far as the Sappi mill (just chemical tankers and pulp cars I think), but I haven't seen a train down that direction yet this year. The rails along the entire line are very rusted over, so that seems to back up my anecdotal evidence of a lack of trains. Does anyone know if Sappi is still shipping or receiving at all by rail, or is the Mountain Division truly dead past the Amtrak station? (The only other potential shipper/receiver I see on the line is the Blue Rock quarry, but they don't look to be in a position to ship by rail.)


On a related note, does anyone know the history of the various rail lines that snake through Westbrook? There are a number of lines that run through and around Westbrook that I've never seen service on or have been abandoned for some time. Does anyone have any maps, or history of when service dried up on the various branches?
For example, this branch that runs to the South side of Sappi along Warren ave:
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hne ... 1&t=h&z=18

Or this -now paved over- branch along Rt. 25, which I recall seeing traffic on in the early '90s (did this line formerly run all the way into Gorham? It almost looks like it):
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hne ... 1&t=h&z=18

I've also noticed what appears to be rail popping through the pavement on Cumberland Street within the Westbrook rotary, apparently running down the center of the street. Could this be remnants of Portland's former streetcar system?
If anyone has answers about this area, or knows where I could look to find them, I would be very interested to hear it. It seems that there is a lot of railroad history right in my local area, but I currently know very little about it! Thanks in advance!
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Re: Activity on the Ex-Mountain Division/Sappi?

Postby dnelson » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:33 pm

Jacob Mayo captured Switcher 1 returning from the Westbrook Mill on July 20th, so we know the line has seen relatively recent activity.
http://photos.nerail.org/s/?p=174256

I start college at USM in Gorham next week, so hopefully I'll be able to see some Pan Am activity in Westbrook soon. I'll report any sightings on the "Mountain Branch" here.
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Re: Activity on the Ex-Mountain Division/Sappi?

Postby ihdavis1 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:04 pm

I am fairly sure that those two short branches shown on the google maps are the last surviving (barely) remanants of the old WN&P Route (Worcester-Nashua+Nashua-Rochester+Portland and Rochester). The route crossed the mountain division on a diamond before heading towards downtown Portland.
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Re: Activity on the Ex-Mountain Division/Sappi?

Postby Mikejf » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:56 pm

ihdavis1 wrote:I am fairly sure that those two short branches shown on the google maps are the last surviving (barely) remanants of the old WN&P Route (Worcester-Nashua+Nashua-Rochester+Portland and Rochester). The route crossed the mountain division on a diamond before heading towards downtown Portland.



This is partially true. The western branch was relocated slightly when the bypass around Main Street Westbrook was built. It did use to continue through Gorham and Sanford, onto NH. I remember there being something where the Hannaford is now that occasionally recieved cars. Possibly a wharehouse or something. This was taken out in the last 10 years, and when the new Fire Station was built, it severed the line there too.

The line to the east was cut by the construction of the Maine Turnpike in the late 40's. The line still served the mill, crossing Warren Avenue to access it. In the last 5 years, there has been no activity on this stretch.

On the other side of the turnpike in Portland, the last remaining section of the WN&P in use remains. It crosses Bishop St Extension enroute to a lumber distribution center. Also serves some tank car type businesses out toward Forrest Ave.

Back to Sappi, the only rail traffic now crosses over River road to enter the mill. Try some of the side roads in the area to get public glimpses into the mill. Very infrequent, so unless you happen to see one by chance, you may never catch one in the area.

Mike
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Re: Activity on the Ex-Mountain Division/Sappi?

Postby bwparker1 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:20 pm

miketrainnut wrote:This is partially true. The western branch was relocated slightly when the bypass around Main Street Westbrook was built. It did use to continue through Gorham and Sanford, onto NH. I remember there being something where the Hannaford is now that occasionally recieved cars. Possibly a wharehouse or something. This was taken out in the last 10 years, and when the new Fire Station was built, it severed the line there too.

Mike


That was Southern Container. I think they received/sent shipments until about 2000.

Here is a photo I took:
Image

More Images of the area you are discussing that I took are here on nerail.

http://photos.nerail.org/show/?order=by ... =bwparker1
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Re: Activity on the Mountain Branch (Portland to Westbrook)

Postby Mikejf » Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:55 pm

Wow, I actually had my dates guessed correctly. Your Photos taken in '03 show both the Hannaford and the new Fire Station being constructed. Thanks for posting the link.

Mike
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Re: Activity on the Mountain Branch (Portland to Westbrook)

Postby bwparker1 » Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:08 pm

miketrainnut wrote:Wow, I actually had my dates guessed correctly. Your Photos taken in '03 show both the Hannaford and the new Fire Station being constructed. Thanks for posting the link.

Mike


No problem. I was just bummed to not have been to that area earlier, while Southern Container was operating, or at least standing. I was there in winter 2001, so I should have been able to have taken some type of photo back then, had I known about it.
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